PIC Microcontrollers and Projects
When it comes to choosing microcontrollers for projects be it electronic projects or electrical projects, there are virtually hundreds of choices today. Ranging from 8 bit to 32 bits, various microcontrollers are available to suit projects and products of various complexities and cost constraints. But when we consider only student projects, be it final year projects or even mini projects only a handful of microcontrollers are suitable. We at Ensemble believe that the following are the best options for students to choose from, given various constrains like cost, complexity, availability and awareness etc.
- Microchip’s – PIC Microcontrollers
- Atmel’s -AT Series and AVR Series of Microcontrollers
- ARM Microcontrollers by Various manufacturers like Texas Instruments
Each of these options have their own advantage and disadvantage for a student project…
ARM Microcontroller : ARM Processors and Microcontrollers are high performance controllers that are among the best in terms of speed, performance etc, but at the same time for a student project in embedded systems or other related fields, these might not always be the best choice. For most student projects the speed and the performance of a ARM processor are not needed and hence at the end of the day they add no real advantage to a BE project or even a ME Project. In turn the complexity of a ARM processor can make the project unnecessarily complicated and expensive. Having said that from time to time we do come across electronic as well as electrical projects that require the performance of a ARM controller, so the students need to bear in mind that just the mere presence of a ARM controller in a project doesn’t make it better project.
ATMEL’s AT and AVR Microcontrollers : As of today these are the cheapest, simplest and most easily available microcontrollers, especially in India. ATMEL’s AT series of microcontrollers are also based on the Intel 8051 Architecture and hence is a natural choice for students projects and experimentation, because students are already familiar with the architecture. However the AT series of controllers lack many important features that are generally used for embedded projects. Most embedded systems based project require ADC, DACs, PWM, various communication standards etc, which are not always available in AT series of controllers. Hence if the project is relatively simple and doesnot require extensive interfacing and analog capabilities then decent final year projects can be accomplished with Atmel microcontrollers.
PIC Microcontrollers : PIC Microcontrollers are made by Microchip and as of today they are the worlds most popular microcontroller family. PIC Controllers are a very optimum combination of cost, complexity, features and availability. Especially for student projects they are an excellent choice, because they combine perhaps all the features that one can possibly require for a final year project. PIC Microcontrollers are a ideal choice not just for electronic projects, but also for electrical project that require features like PWM for machine control and similar applications. In terms of cost and complexity also the PIC microcontrollers make a great choice for student projects because they are neither too simple nor too complicated. Also they offer the students an opportunity to learn a totally new microcontroller architecture.
We at Ensemble Technologies have over the years used dozens of different microcontrollers based on different architectures. In our opinion as of today PIC Microcontrollers are a the most optimum choice of microcontrollers for student applications. Particularly the PIC 18 family of controllers, which are in our opinion the best 8 bit microcontroller family available today. Irrespective of it being a final year project of a mini project, and also irrespective of it being a ece project or a eee project – a PIC microcontroller should be a very good first choice.
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